Faint Praise

You've probably heard of the expression "damning with faint praise." The idea is that we can often use words that sound like they are positive, but we express our praise in such weak terms that the emphasis is on the failings of the person rather than on the strength.

Post-war Prime Minister Robert Menzies was once reported to have said in Parliament of an Opposition member, "He has the brains of a dingo." When called on to withdraw this unparliamentary insult, Menzies said "I withdraw my previous comment. The Honourable Member does not have the brains of a dingo."

When I was younger and knew everything, I was able to judge ministers on their performance. Some made the dizzying heights of "Not bad."

When we lived in Wollongong, it was generally agreed that one particular minister was a "lovely man, but so boring in the pulpit."

Faint praise.

What we don't realise is that such faint praise reflects on our attitude not just to those in leadership but to God.

Rather than genuinely thanking God for sending such men and women to our faith community to provide oversight and protection for the church, we sit in judgement over them and over the God who sent them.

Not every Pastor is the brilliant preacher, marvellous people person, amazing faith pray-er that we would want. In fact none is, becasue no human being can ever meet all the demands of all the people in any congregation.

But God has established those people in the church and given those gifts to the church for the equipping and maturing of the church.

Instead of faint praise, we need to be enthhusiastic in our thankfulness to God and in praise of those who serve in our midst. We don't need to pretend they are perfect, but we do need to lift them up in our hearts and in our words.

Who knows, our honouring of them might actually spur them on to being even better.

So having come under conviction of my attitude to a multitude of pastors, past and present, I am asking for grace to also uplift my friends and colleagues who minister in the church.